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"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."
Earnest Hemingway.


Is the Great Resignation really a thing in NZ?

There is a phrase being bandied about on LinkedIn and on global business platforms at the moment. So, I did some intense research, I asked Google, “Is the great resignation happening in…" well it seems that I am not the only one interested in that question. Apparently, people in Canada, UK and Australia have been asking the same question.

What I do know from years of coaching and consultancy is that what people cite as reasons on paper are often only half the story. According to Mr Google again, some reasons cited for The Big Quit are:

According to an article in Forbes: “The “Great Resignation” is a sort of workers’ revolution and uprising
against bad bosses and tone-deaf companies that refuse to pay well and take advantage of their staff. Millions of workers voted with their feet and walked out of their jobs—many without having another position already lined up...” Forbes
According to an article in Inc: “Explorance, a leader in experience management (XM) solutions, recently commissioned a survey of 2,000 U.S. part- and full-time-employed adults to probe the hidden drivers behind the sudden employee exodus. Four words: Feedback that goes unheard. The survey found that a majority of employees are eager to share feedback  with employers and do so in the hopes of driving positive change in their workplace. However, employees -- including many executives -- feel that all too often their feedback goes unheard and does not result in meaningful change.”

As I read this, I felt uncomfortable. So that is what is happening in the US, but what is happening here in New Zealand, last time I heard we were facing another kind of struggle, a shortage of skilled people to fill the gaps we have in our growing companies. So why am I bringing this up? Very often trends can create knee jerk reactions that can create the very problem we are worried about.

So, what is really going on? Why are so many people  considering leaving their place of work? Are they really? Has anyone done a local survey? And is this actually the case in New Zealand? 

Perhaps, because perspective is a powerful thing, and maybe lockdown has given many people the time to get that perspective and to get out of the office and the churn of day to day and realise there is far more to life than just a paycheck.

I wonder if what has happened is that many realised, they can do without the politics, having to deal with difficult people and yes maybe even realised that they can make do with less for a short period of time. Lockdown also pulled down the facades that can be created around the culture, because when the paw-paw hits the fan, how company’s really behaved said more than their shiny words on the wall. Many realised they were just sexy empty words. Or maybe they have just enjoyed the flexibility and don’t want to lose it.

What I have seen over the last two years, is companies that walked the talk, continued to capture the hearts and minds of their people, not by what they said, but by what they did. When they made mistakes, they were quick to apologise and make things right. They focused on creating clarity through uncertainty. They gave hope amid confusion and despair. They have come out stronger. They weathered the storm together, even when people’s nerves and patience wore thin, they had a large deposit of trust to draw from to work themselves through to the other side.

Now in my mind, whether this is a real threat or not, the cost of finding new staff or having people unemployed should deter us from waiting around to see if it is a thing. This is something that is simple to prevent and fix. Simple, not easy. Simple because there are only four disciplines, not easy because it takes courageous leaders who are hungry, humble and who have people smarts. It takes leaders who are willing to have discussions that make them very uncomfortable but have the guts to stay vulnerable and tell the truth. It takes leaders who make the time to get clarity and then over communicate that clarity to their people and then build human structures in their business that are built to serve and reinforce that clarity.

What I have also seen over the last two years has convinced me more than ever that the culture of a business beats strategy every time. Businesses that are people-centric and that took care of their people, and their business are the ones who will come out stronger than before. They focused on the smart side of business without sacrificing on the healthy side. These companies will lead the way into the new normal. Now more than ever as we navigate our way through the years to come, and for some rebuild, take the time to build a healthy organisation. 

So, I don’t know if New Zealand will be impacted by this new trend, what I do know is that if your business is healthy and a wonderful place to work that can align with people’s values and purpose why would they want to leave? The trick is having the courage to have that conversation with your staff to find out what they are thinking right now.


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